I’m worried there is something wrong with me. There are seven days until Christmas, and I’m not feeling Christmassy at all.
I know, I know – that’s not the point of Christmas. Christians across the globe have come together with articles, Facebook pages, catchy slogans and even a movie to remind me that I’m a terrible person for being sad about my lack of Christmassyness. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season and, it’s undeniable, Christmas actually does start with Christ.
So landing back in the UK after two weeks in Nepal – where the approach of Christmas was evidenced only by a lone Santa outfit in one shop window in Kathmandu – I was conflicted. I was excited, even relieved, by the decorations, the songs and the adverts that greeted me, and then I felt guilty for having missed them. Guilty for wanting to feel Christmassy at all.
As a Christian, for me Christmas is about Jesus. Of course it is. But when someone says ‘Christmas’, snow, stockings, roast turkey, chocolate coins and a million other festive thoughts instantly come to mind, too. Is it wrong for Christians to be just a little bit excited about fairy lights, hideous jumpers and Father Christmas? Can we be Christmassy without feeling like we’ve chosen worldly things over Jesus?
Yes! I really think we can. If Christmas is ‘our holiday’, surely we can enjoy it by donning a polar bear jumper, drinking a glass of mulled wine and putting fairy lights wherever we fancy? That must be better than bah-humbugging Christmas or getting het up about Spiderman featuring in a surprising number of school nativities.
Christmas is amazing. It’s the one time of the year where people are weirdly jolly. They even come to church, which is astonishing. And we all sing, Christians and non-Christians alike, Joy to the world!
If the internet and church notice boards are anything to go by, we Christians seem to like to tell everyone who will listen that they shouldn’t forget the true meaning of Christmas. Which is right, we shouldn’t. And we should take every opportunity we have to share the Christmas story with those who don’t yet know Jesus. But the spirit of that story is joy, right? It seems to me that the spirit of much of the secular celebration of Christmas is joy, too. And joy is good, and godly. Paul loved it. So let’s find ways of sharing Jesus without stealing people’s joy or making them feel bad for buying presents and decorating a tree.
Children get it. I love seeing them at Christmas. They are full of wonder about all things Christmassy – and that’s how I want to be. I’m 24 years old and every other year I make my family leave a mince pie and a glass of brandy for Santa by the fireplace and a carrot for Rudolf. I’m not deluded; it’s definitely my dad who drinks the brandy. But there’s still something magical about it.
Sometimes on Christmas Eve I am genuinely too excited to sleep and I’ve decided that that’s ok. Actually it’s pretty wonderful. So for the next week I am not going to apologise for my apparently terrible taste in Christmas music or hold back on the Christmas movies and tacky decorations. I am determined to find that Christmassy feeling – but when I find it, I won’t forget the real reason for all of my joy.